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by: Kenny Chesney

If you go to a Kenny Chesney concert, expect a party, along with a long list of hit songs. But when the lights go down, Kenny's something you may not expect-a dreamer, a workaholic and even, in his own words, a pretty "normal and boring" guy. In a Country Weekly exclusive celebrating his new Somewhere in the Sun Tour, Kenny shares his thoughts on success, failure, hopes, the future-and most important, you, the fans.

-Wendy Newcomer

About five years ago I stopped worrying, stopped looking around for things I wanted to be.

It's when you realize who you want to be-or don't want to be. Sometimes what you're not is even more important. You get to a place where you know where you don't want to be, where you don't wanna hang around or act in a certain way. When you get there, you can look in the mirror and you're OK with what you see. That happened.

People have different definitions of what hard work is. My work ethic has always had a very high standard, so I tend to think in terms of how am I going to do "x" rather than I want to win this or sell that many. To me, it's always pushing myself to be better. Now, a song with emotion and a good hook isn't really enough. I have to be inspired by a time or an emotion, a place. I need something concrete to set fire to my imagination. Then I try to build that up.

Look, I know some of those kids probably have dreams, too. They have a lot going on in their lives, and our music helps them deal with that. When they tell me stories, stories about how the different songs were the thing that anchored a feeling or something that happened to them, that's powerful-and it makes you want to give them more. And then, live, we feed off that crowd. To us, those people, that energy, is the show.

Up until the opening week of the No Shoes Tour, we'd been headlining small arenas, but not really anything that would let you go for it, you know? So, I guess you could say I was scared. When you're going into the sheds [amphitheaters]- that's a big leap. What if we'd hit our ceiling? That first night in West Palm Beach [Jan. 17, 2002], I remember sitting on the bus, hoping people would come-and boy did they! And they did every night after that.

I was excited. But it brought pressure, 'cause if those people believed in us like that, I didn't want to let them down. Because having all those people there meant I could do this road thing the way I'd always dreamed of doing it. It's an amazing thing to realize they're coming for you, that they want to party with you and the songs you've cut. Maybe this is something the average kid can dream-but you can't know everything that comes with it. You can't even imagine. So, sure you can dream of selling out the stadiums, arenas, but everything else . . . there's no way you can know until you're in the midst of it, especially all the work that comes with it, what people expect of you. That's just something you start to know as it starts to happen.

There are always moments [of doubt]. You make choices in your life-and where you focus your attention is one of them. You don't know what lies down the road. But this is something I'd've done, even if I was working a job back in East Tennessee. I'd still have a little band playing in a bar somewhere Friday and Saturday nights.

To read more about Kenny Chesney's life, pick up the new Country Weekly hitting newsstands on April 25!